Warrington Borough Council is moving ahead with the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and has now signed an agreement with Volvo Buses. The order has officially been placed for 105 Volvo BZL Electric vehicles, one of the biggest orders of electric buses by any town or city in the UK to date.
The council has also awarded the contract for the bus chargers to power the new electric buses. EO Charging, a leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions for fleets – will supply the chargers, which will beinstalled at Warrington’s brand new bus depot.
It means the countdown can now begin to the arrival of Warrington’s all electric bus fleet – replacing Warrington’s Own Buses’ entire fleet of diesel buses – in 2024.
The state-of-the-art Volvo BZL Electric, which will soon be making Warrington its home, provides clean, near-silent, comfortable and efficient public transport. It is built to a high safety standard and complies with the toughest restrictions on emissions and noise.
Launched in 2021, the zero-tailpipe emissions vehicle features low interior noise, making it easier for passengers to talk to others or listen to music during the ride, with the driver also benefiting from a calm and quiet workspace. The silent propulsion also reduces noise for residents along the route.
Warrington’s Own Buses covers 85% of the bus mileage in the borough, and the conversion of its entire fleet to all-electric supports Warrington’s ambitions to introduce greener, cleaner and more sustainable transport options throughout the borough.
The progress being made with the ZEBRA scheme is the latest boost to the wider work to transform bus services in Warrington, as part of the borough’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). A range of work is under way between the council and local operators to deliver cheaper fares, increased reliability and high quality, accessible vehicles.
This includes the launch on 1 July, of the latest phase of Warrington’s Better By Bus initiative, which is capping single fares at £2 for adults and £1 for young people aged 5-18, until 2025.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for transport, Cllr Hans Mundry, said: “It’s fantastic news that our ZEBRA project is moving forward, with the orders placed for our new, zero emissions buses and chargers. The introduction of our all-electric fleet will bring massive benefits, helping to decarbonise our transport system as we work towards a net-zero future.
“We will be delivering a fleet of buses fit for the future with zero tailpipe emissions which will improve air quality across Warrington, supporting our work to tackle the climate emergency. It will also support a key aim of our Local Transport Plan, to reduce emissions and congestion and build sustainable transport into everyday life in Warrington.
“Our environmentally friendly, modern and attractive buses will help boost Warrington’s reputation as a place to live, work, and do business. We believe that – supported by the huge improvements we are making to services across the board through our BSIP – our new buses will play a major role in our work to achieve a mode shift from the car and increase the share of journeys made by bus in our borough.”
Commenting on the order, Dan Barwick, Regional Sales Director for the North at Volvo Buses said: “We’re really pleased to support yet another area as it strives to improve air quality and the health of local residents, aligning with Volvo Group’s mission to drive prosperity through transport and infrastructure solutions.
“We’ve seen some really great feedback from our Volvo BZL Electric customers this year, I look forward to seeing this order come to fruition and begin to benefit the local area.”
Chief Executive of EO Charging, Charlie Jardine, added: “EO Charging are excited to be working with Warrington Borough Council and Warrington’s Own Buses on this project to install electric bus charging across the whole depot for their new Volvo electric bus fleet. We are looking forward to starting works onsite later this year, with the project fully delivered in Q2 2024.
“The project will see the deployment of 53 high capacity 120kW chargers from ABB, with each unit supporting overnight charging of two vehicles. The new connection of 6MVA will be load managed through our EO Hub load management device and the chargers will be connected to our EO Cloud software platform to ensure the limits of the new timed connection are not exceeded.”
Volvo Buses has worked in close partnership with MCV Bus and Coach to develop the bodywork for the BZL Electric range, tailoring it specifically for UK fleets. As part of Volvo Group, Volvo Buses brings a wealth of experience in electromobility and is able to offer strong and reliable aftersales support through the Volvo Truck and Bus dealer network.
Ben Wakerley, Managing Director of Warrington’s Own Buses, said: “The electric buses, powered by solar energy will make our bus services as carbon neutral as they can possibly be. This is great for the environment and air quality, and will provide a huge improvement for customers and employees.”